Aviation supporters rally in Cedar Rapids - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Aviation supporters rally in Cedar Rapids

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association held a rally in Cedar Rapids Wednesday in an attempt to influence public perception about the industry.

The issue of corporate jet use and tax breaks has sparked plenty of political debate recently. Daniel Leon, a volunteer with the Civil Air Patrol in Cedar Rapids, says he has heard all the stereotypes of the industry.

"Most people if you look around think, okay it's corporate big wigs flying in big fancy private jets going to who knows where in the tropics on vacation," Leon said.

Leon says that's a common misconception.

"Most of it is crop dusting, medevacs, small airplanes like ours," he said.

Leon has taken part in search and rescue missions and helped with the aerial surveying of the aftermath of the Lake Delhi breach for FEMA.

As the current administration dangles the possibility of ending special tax deductions for the depreciation of corporate jets, hundreds rallied in Cedar Rapids to fight the negative publicity.

Supporters say general aviation creates $150 billion of economic impact a year and employs 1.2 million people nationwide.

Clay Jones, CEO of avionics maker Rockwell Collins, says his employees depend on the industry to help maintain a competitive edge.

"Engineers, program managers, and sales people use the airplane far more than I, as a CEO use it, to go see our customers, to make sure that we're out doing the things we need to do to grow our business," Jones said.

President Obama has pointed to tax breaks for corporate jet owners as a way to raise revenue to lower the deficit without impacting middle class families.

Iowa lawmakers from both parties attended Wednesday's rally.

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